TUESDAY, Feb. 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Two-thirds of smokers will die early from their habit if they don't quit, a new study suggests.
The findings indicate that it's never too late to quit smoking, one expert said.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 200,000 people taking part in a study conducted by the Sax Institute in Australia. The study is a long-term investigation of healthy aging.
"We knew smoking was bad, but we now have direct independent evidence that confirms the disturbing findings that have been emerging internationally," Emily Banks, scientific director of the Sax study and a researcher at the Australian National University, said in an institute news release.
"Even with the very low rates of smoking that we have in Australia, we found that smokers have around threefold the risk of premature death of those who have never smoked. We also found smokers will die an estimated 10 years earlier than nonsmokers," she added.
Compared with not smoking, having just 10 cigarettes a day doubles the risk of dying early. And smoking a pack a day increases the risk four- to fivefold, according to the study published Feb. 24 in the journal BMC Medicine.
It was long thought that smoking-related diseases would kill about half of smokers early, but newer research has put the figure as high as 67 percent. This study gives further credence to that larger death toll, the study authors noted in the news release.
The findings offer an important message to smokers, according to Scott Walsberger, tobacco control manager at the Cancer Council NSW in Australia.
"It's never too late to quit, no matter what your age or how much you smoke," Walsberger said.
The American Cancer Society offers a guide to quitting smoking.
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